What I Have Learned After 30 Years

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Thirty years ago today I said I do to a man I wasn’t sure I loved the way a wife should love her husband. I am not even sure I knew what love was at that time. What I did know is that he was my friend and in the two years I had known him he had already supported me through so much. He had loved me during moments that many men would have walked away.

Since that day I have learned a lot. I have learned about marriage, love and life as we have journeyed together. It hasn’t always been perfect and yet it has been good. We have learned that we can argue and yet work things out in love. We have learned that there will be times we may feel like we want to give up but we would fight for one another, for our love and our family.

We have also learned…

Marriage is a covenant. A covenant not to be broken except by death. We choose to be committed to one another no matter what life may throw at us. We also understand that it is not just the two of us involved in the covenant but God is the administer of our covenant. He watches over us.

Love is a choice. You only fall out of love because you choose to. It gets too hard, we stop trying, but love chooses to stay and work through the hard places. Love chooses to keep going even when you feel like giving up.

You have to laugh. At times we must laugh hard and long. It helps put the day in perspective. God gave me my husband because God knew I would need to laugh. Keith is the only one who can make me laugh at almost anything, even when I am really stressed out. Even when I am upset with him.

Neither of us are perfect. We each have areas of our heart and life that God needs to expose and work through in order to mold us into the image of Christ. Giving room to grow into the man and woman God has created us to be is important.

Marriage is about growing. It’s a process of growth and maturity. A process that requires grace, patience and a willingness to walk in forgiveness. It’s growing in our relationship with God, with each other and within ourselves. We need to encourage and spur on growth in one another.

Marriage is about friendship. Be willing to work at the friendship. Spend time together. Talk about everything, share your hopes, dreams, joys and sorrow. Be life long friends.

Marriage takes hard work. It’s true, marriage isn’t easy. You can just glide along hoping things will be fine. You can not just push everything under the rug praying it will work out. You need to keep dating your spouse even when schedules make it seem impossible.

There is so much we’ve learned after 30 years, this is only a small list. How can one possibly list everything?I don’t want to sound as if it’s been easy, it hasn’t been. Anyone who has been married for any length of time knows it takes work, prayer and God.

There is a book on my shelf that I have never read, it’s called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. I am sure it’s an excellent book. When I first got it I opened it and read 2012-12-24 20.49.01this sentence, “What if marriage is not to make you happy, but to make you holy?” I closed the book and put it on the shelf. It’s the best book I never read.

That sentence in many ways has totally changed my thoughts on marriage. What if God intended marriage to make us holy? What better way to live a life of “iron sharpens iron” than within the marriage relationship?

Maybe we come into marriage with the wrong expectations? We enter marriage thinking it is to make us happy, whole or so that we are loved. But what if it is more about learning to know God and to make us holy. It’s just a thought.

I pray that we still have many more years ahead of us. I love this man, I love being married to him for better and for worse, in sickness and in health and for poor or rich. I pray we have more years to love and to grow.

A Longing Unsatisfied

unsatisfied_thumb.jpgI believe that there is a longing in every heart for a deep soul connection. A longing that often cries out to be filled.

We desire to connect with another person. To connect deeply. To be loved unconditionally. We desire to be accepted, valued, and complete.

Often when we get married we think that our spouse will fill that need, that longing to be apart of something bigger than ourselves. We marry thinking that every need, especially emotionally, will be met. We think that we no longer will be lonely or fill empty. We will have someone to share EVERYTHING with. We will have that one person who totally understands us.

Then comes reality. Our spouse cannot meet every need we have emotionally. Some will say that we need our girlfriends to meet our needs where our husbands can not. But again the reality is that I can have a good, healthy relationship with my husband, mother, sister or a friend but at some point in the relationship I will want more. At some point they will fail or disappoint me. Their love will never be enough to fully satisfy the longing. It’s impossible for any human relationship to fulfill that which was meant for God alone.

When we think others can fill the emptiness we set the relationship up for failure. To think your husband can or should fill your needs sets your marriage up to fail. God created each of us with a longing that can only be filled by Him. To expect anyone else to fill that longing will only bring disappoint in the end.

I believe marriages, and other relationships in our lives would be better, healthier and stronger if we would first go to God where we are completely satisfied. When we are in a relationship with Him the longing will be filled. Our relationship with our husband will not be enough if we have not allowed God to fill the longing in us first.

Once we are filled to overflowing by the Spirit of God we can then go to our husband without any thought of self. We are free then, and only then, to offer ourselves completely without any expectations to be filled by him because we are already filled to overflowing with Christ.

The beauty of living completely satisfied in Christ is that we no longer go to those we love in order to seek to be filled. We can however be free to give more fully of ourselves.

The only one  in this world that can fill the longing inside you is Jesus. It’s a relationship with Him, not our husbands that fully satisfy. Jesus says that He came to give you life, abundant life! (John 10:10) And in Colossians we are reminded that it is in Christ that we are complete. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Col 2:9,10)

Oh dear one, you no longer have to live a life of emptiness or neglect. Jesus longs to fill you with Himself so that you will know joy, peace and abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13)

He waits for you. He longs to fill the emptiness of your soul.

Oh Father forgive me for the times I go to my husband to fill my needs when I should come to you. Even if my husband could fill all my needs it still wouldn’t fully satisfy apart from You. Jesus help me to live fully satisfied in your love. I want to be filled to overflowing with all of you so that I might not want from those I love but so that I can give of all I am to them. Help me to be a living sacrifice, help me to be an example of Your overflowing love. Amen

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”Romans 15:13

But, He does not Deserve My Respect!

I think showing respect to our husband is an area that is hard to live out because so much of the culture around us tells us that we should only show respect if it’s deserved. Watch TV for five minutes and you will see husbands treated like they are stupid buffoons. They are portrayed as weak, spineless, and lack any kind of authority. It saddens me, and it has set an example for women to disrespect their husbands.

As I have taught the importance of respecting your husband, the comment I hear most often is, “What if He doesn’t deserve my respect?” My answer is always the same. I take them to 1 Peter 3:1 and 2 which says “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husband so that even if any of them are disobedience to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

ID-100156152_thumb.jpgI remember reading this verse several years ago and for the first time really seeing the phrase “In the same way”. I had to ask myself “IN WHAT WAY?”

In what way was I to be respectful to my husband?

In order to understand the answer to that question I had to go back to Chapter 2. We are to show honor  to all people, love the brotherhood, fear God and honor the king. (v17)

We are to be respectful to those over us regardless of their attitude toward us. Verse 18 says to be respectful to those who are unreasonable, not just to those we are good and gentle.

Wow, that’s a hard one! I mean it’s easy to show respect if someone is deserving but to show respect if they are undeserving! Why would God ask us to do that?

Verse 19 tells us why. “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.”

So if I understand that correctly I find favor in the eyes of God when I do what is right regardless of how the other person might treat me. Whoa! Wait a minute! That’s just going to far! I mean the world tells me I have a “right” to be pursue happiness. I have a “right” to live in comfort. I don’t have to suffer under harsh treatment from anyone. So why would God tell me to do something that is just too difficult?

Why? Because as Christ followers we have been called to suffer as Christ suffered. Jesus left us an example to follow. He suffered unjustly when He was ridiculed, reviled, and put to death for our sins. And in the midst of it all He uttered no threats, He kept silent.

I remember asking the question as I read, how can I keep silent through suffering? How can I be chaste and respectful in the midst of suffering at the hands of others? 1 Peter gives us the answer in the last part of verse 23, I am to keep entrusting myself to Him who judges righteously.

So how can I possibly show respect “in the same way” to my husband even if he doesn’t deserve my respect? I am to follow the example that Christ set. I am to live a life of obedience to God and entrust my life to Him. I am to allow God to work in the life of my husband without me trying to be his holy spirit.

Ladies I know this can be a hard one. I learned early in our marriage that my role is not to try and “convict” my husband of anything. I don’t always know what is right, even on those times I am convinced I am! I am called to be obedient to Christ. To live a life of respect to all those God has placed in my life. I can do this because I follow the example of Christ.

In light of what I’ve shared I would like to ask all of us to reflection on a few questions…

Is it ever okay to be disrespectful toward our husbands?

It is ever okay to get caught up in “husband bashing”?

Do I find myself talking negatively about my husband in front of others or my children?

Do my words lift him up or tear him down?

What about my attitude when speaking with him? Does my voice tones also show respect?

Prayer: Father we come to you today and confess that there are times we may have been disrespectful toward our husbands in word and by our actions. Forgive us and help us to show them the proper respect whether or not we think they deserve it. Help us to be obedient in this area out of our desire to please You and do what is right according to Your word. Amen

Photo courtesy by David Castillo Dominici, at freedigitalphotos.com

Being a Godly Wife

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord ;seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:2-3

Through the last 29+ years of marriage I’ve participated in many Bible studies about being  a godly wife or having a godly marriage. I’ve also read many, many books on those same topics. Why? Because I was seeking for truth about “how to” be the best wife I could be.

godly wifeThrough the years I gleaned a lot of truth, but at times it was also very frustrating. There were books and studies that seemed to me to be a long, undo-able list of things I should do or how I should behave. I would often become overwhelmed and frustrated. Then came the lies. The lies that said, “you’ll never get it”, “just face it, your not going to be a godly wife like so and so.”  “After all there is just no way I will ever be the Proverbs Woman,” I often thought to myself.

What was a woman to do? What steps could I take to be a godly wife and have a godly marriage? Was there a formula I could follow? Maybe a book on “the 7 steps to a godly marriage” ?

At times, early in my marriage I would just sit and cry out to God in frustration. Where were the older women who could show me? Why couldn’t anyone see that I had NO CLUE what I was doing?!

God heard the frustration in my heart’s cry. Over time He answered. His answer was not what I expected, but it brought such freedom!

God set me free from trying to become the “perfect” wife and have the “perfect” marriage. Freedom came when I realized that I only need to follow Christ.

What my husband really needed is a wife who followed hard after God.

In order to be a godly wife, or even a godly mother I “only” needed to take care of my relationship with God. I needed to be the woman that God created me to be. A woman who hungers and thirst after God. A woman who obeys her God. A woman who knows that God must be her very first priority.

I needed to be in God’s word, studying, mediating, praying so that God could create in me a changed heart. He alone can change my wrong attitudes toward life and those in it. He alone can create in me a true obedience to His will for my life.

Through the years I’ve realized that it is not about me BECOMING a godly wife but it’s about me seeking the ONE who can create in me the desire to be a godly daughter of the King.

I’ve learned that to be a good wife and have a good marriage that I must be passionately pursuing Jesus and my relationship with Him. It is in the word of God and studying it for myself that I learn to be the woman God desires me to be.

You see what I have learned is that I can have any number of lists on how to be a good wife but I will never measure up to the list. I will never measure up to the expectations of others or myself. They only place I will find joy, and acceptance is in my relationship with Christ. He is more than enough.

Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law And keep it with all my heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies…Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, Andrevive me in Your ways. Establish Your word to Your servant, As that which produces reverence for You…Behold, I long for Your precepts;Revive me through Your righteousness. (Psalms 119:33-40)

Photo courtesy of um_skyman at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

This is Life. This is Marriage.

We took our wedding vows and made a promise to live together until death does us part.

No one told us how hard it would be those first couple of years. It was the little things that caused frustrations. Like laundry on the floor, who slept on what side of the bed, what kind of toothpaste  would we use. Whose house would we go for the holidays. Everything seemed to cause a struggle. It was a struggle for two individuals becoming one.

ID-10033333.jpgIt takes time for a young man to gain confidence and take the lead. It takes time to become a man.

It takes time for a woman to grow and realize the role God places her in. She will grow to come along side and be a helpmate to her husband.

It goes against our flesh, it goes against what the world tells us about marriage. The only hope is that God must be allowed to work in our hearts. In our marriage.

There are many years filled with love, laughter and tears. Learning to understand one another, to love one another. There were sorrows and disappointments shared. Deep struggles that caused growth in both of us.

There were children, moving, losses, death, and decisions to be made. All allowed by the grace of God to mold and shape us.

This was life, it was our life. It is still life.

Marriage is an amazing life shared with one who loves deeply, sacrificially and unconditionally. Dates planned, intimate talks, holding hands or just sitting in silence knowing we are not alone. Sharing our future, hopes, dreams, desires, and our fears.

Oh, and those moments when you look into one another’s eyes and know just how loved you are. You see your beauty in the way they look at you. You feel safe in their embrace and you know the depth of their commitment to you.

This is life, this is marriage. Both are filled with love, joy, pain and sorrow.

We made a promise on the day of our wedding, but we have grown to a place where we realize that marriage is more than a promise, it’s a covenant. A solemn binding agreement between parties, made by blood, and not breakable. God is the sovereign administrator of this covenant.

A covenant means that you become one flesh, its death to independent living. You will put your partners needs before your own. If someone hurts your spouse they hurt you for you have truly grown to be one.

A covenant means that you will stand and fight for as long as it takes to defeat the enemy. You’ve got one another’s back. It means that you will be there for one another no matter how hard the road is. You are in it for the long haul. There is no giving up when it gets hard and messy. There is no divorce – it’s not even in your vocabulary and certainly never mentioned.

When recently asked how we have managed to come to almost 30 years I simply said,“we made a covenant, and a covenant is more than a promise. A covenant can not be broken. We are committed to making it work. We choose to love one another even in those moments when it’s hard.”

Marriage does not come with an easy button, it takes work, sacrifice, steadfast commitment and prayer. It also takes those around you to build a community of faith and support. We allow others int our lives to help keep us accountable. We allow them to speak truth into our marriage.

It means allowing God to rule over your marriage and be obedient to do what you know is right. It means that you WILL be there for one another no matter what. You will always choose to stay and work it out instead of leave and give up.

Marriage is more than the worlds definition of a promise which is so easily broken– it’s a covenant.

 
Photo courtesy from  photostock,  at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Who is My Husband?

During a recent study on Loving God and Loving Others I began to understand in a much deeper way how I am to love others. We talked about loving our neighbors, our enemies and the brethren.

Jokingly someone asked so who is our husband? Is he our neighbor, enemy or brethren? Is there a different love reserved for our husbands?

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I pray he is not your enemy, but regardless scripture is pretty clear on how we are to treat one another. However, if you do feel, at times, as if your husband is your enemy how are you to treat him? Do you still have to love him?

In Luke 10:30-37 Jesus tells of  man who is beaten and robbed. Who is the one who helps him? The one least likely to help, his enemy. In fact the Samaritan goes out of his way to help, and provides for his well being. Jesus then asks which of these were a true neighbor? Of course it was the Samaritan, and we are to do the same.

In Matthew 5:43-44 Jesus tells us that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Luke 6:27-28 goes even further when it says that we are to “do good to those who hate you” and “bless those who curse you”. Again we are told to “pray for those who mistreat you.” If he does mistreat you or hurts you, you are to forgive him. (Matthew 6)

If your husband is your enemy you are called to forgive, bless him, pray for him and love him.

Our husbands are included in the “love your neighbors” and “love the brethren”. So many times as we study these verses we forget that they need to be applied to them.

Just how are we to treat one another? (Including our husbands?)

We are to love as Christ loves. (John 13:34) We are to be devoted to one another in love, giving preference to one another. Be of the same mind toward one another. ( Romans 12:10-16) In other words we are to give preference to their needs over our own. And how did Christ love us? He gave His life.

We are to encourage one another and build one another up, not tear each other up. Our words should be words of love not destruction. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) We are to share our burdens. (Galatians 6:2)

And of course there is 1  Corinthians 13 where we are told that love is patient, kind, not jealous and it does not brag and is not arrogant. Love does not act unbecomingly or seek it’s own desires. It does not provoke or keep records of wrong doing. Love does not rejoice when the other is hurt. Love bears, believes, hopes, endures in all things.

So does it matter that on any given day it could feel as if our husband is our enemy, neighbor, friends, or lover? No, we are still called to love him. If he is not your brother in Christ you are still to love him as Christ loves. If your husband seems like your enemy? Scripture is clear, you are to love him.

Too often it’s easy to forget to apply the “do unto others” to our husbands but real love will treat him better than you treat yourself.

I don’t know about you but there are times this proves quite difficult! And in my flesh, it’s impossible! So it is then that we must make an intentional choice to love our husbands as Christ would want us to. We must go to God and pray for the help of the Spirit to give us the desire and obedience to love, not just our husband but all the “others” also.

What about you? Do you struggle to love your husband as Christ commands? Do you treat your husband like an enemy? Why not spend some time praying before God asking Him to show you those areas where you might be able to show more of a Christ like love. Maybe there are area’s that you need to seek forgiveness, from God and your husband?

(This is an updated post originally posted in 2009 on www.Quiet-Reflections.com)

Photo courtesy of  nuttakit, @ www.freedigitalphotos.net

Sinning Against My Husband

ID-100122416Last week God allowed me to see that I have been responding to my husband in a way that doesn’t always show love or respect. I was reminded of a blog post I wrote last year about respect. At the end I had asked several questions. One being, “What about my attitude when speaking with him? Does my voice tones also show respect?”

My heart was grieved. I looked at my husband who I dearly love and felt such sorrow. A sorrow that leads to repentance. (2 Cor 7:10) He does not deserve my snarky attitude. He doesn’t deserve my bad day (or week). I mean it’s one thing to tell him I’m having a bad day, or feel bad. It’s something entirely different to take it out on him.

Tears of compassion welled up in my eyes. As I looked at him I began to really see him. Not just as my husband but also as a man who loves God. As a man who is my covenant partner, friend and brother in Christ. A man who has devoted his life to me, to provide for our family and raise our boys. A man who works very hard so that I can stay home. 

This man I married has not been prefect. But, he has always loved me. Always. Even in my moments of a disrespectful, awful, snarky attitude. He honors me, lifts me up and continues to love me. Do you know that there is hardly a day that goes by that he doesn’t tell me I am beautiful and he loves me? So how could I possibly be mean with a man like this?

It’s easy. I am a daughter of Eve. I have a sinful nature that wants to rise up and have my own way. I want to be in control. I want what I want when I want it!! No, it’s not pretty. In fact it’s rather ugly. It’s times like this that I really understand Paul in Rom 7:18 “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.”

At times I suppose it would be easy to just stop there and say “Oh well, it’s my sinful flesh, God’s working on it, so deal with it!” It grieves me when I here that excuse or attitude. Whether I hear it in my mind or hear it out of the mouth of believers.

My husband shouldn’t have to deal with it. Not because he loves me or is good to me. And not just because I shouldn’t treat him that way. He doesn’t have to deal with it because Jesus already dealt with it.

It’s times like this that I must return to the cross. I have sinned against my husband. I have sinned against God. So my snarky little attitude needs to take time to go back to the cross and preach the gospel!

What I mean by that is I need to remember that I am a sinner. I need a Savior. And at the cross “Christ died for our [my] sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Cor 15:2b-3)

At the cross Christ conquered death. He paid for my sin. I no longer am a slave to my flesh. Christ Jesus is living in me through His Spirit. Therefore, I no longer have to live according to what my flesh desires. Because of His righteousness I am able to live in righteousness, (with a right attitude). (Roman 8:10-20)

Don’t you see? I do not have to be disrespectful attitude toward my husband. When I am feeling bad, with a wrong attitude, I can go to the cross BEFORE I behave in an unbecoming way. I do not have to live in bondage to my flesh any longer. It doesn’t have to rule over me. I have been set free. (Rom 8:2)

So my snarky little self spent time at the foot of Jesus so that I could have my attitude adjusted! And you know what? It felt really good, and freeing as I allowed His Spirit to minister to my spirit with grace, mercy and love.

 

Note: If any husbands are reading this please know that the same truth can be applied to you toward your wife! Winking smile

 

 

*Photo of couple fighting By David Castillo Dominici,Stock Photo – image ID: 100122416